Friday is a Gas: Humble c.1950-c.1960

Humble Oil Gas Station Highway 82 at Jackson Night from MSU CHARM Digital Collection.

I’m excited about this week’s post because I found some period photographs of example stations in their prime, so I can verify the brand along with what features are original.  The image above shows a Humble branded station with a distinctive inward-slanted roof over an office made nearly of all glass.  This station was possibly in Starkville.

These station were also branded as Enco or Esso stations. The phasing out of the Humble brand was begun in 1961 and was likely complete by 1973 when the Exxon branding was introduced.

This modernist Humble, Enco, or Esso station design of the c.1950s – c.1960s was succeeded by the Ranch design of the c.1960s – c.1970s we looked at last week in Pascagoula.  This example below is in Meridian on Poplar Springs Drive.  While one of the service bays has been covered over along with many of the office windows, it still gives a great visual of the inward-slanted roof over an office made nearly of all glass and the chevroned fascia.

former Humble Station. Poplar Springs Drive Meridian, Lauderdale Co. from Google Street View

The 2016 TxDOT Field Guide to Gas Stations in Texas further describes these Humble, Enco, and Esso stations of the c.1950-c.1960 era as:

Form: Oblong Box
Identifying Features:
• Two-part roof with higher roof over service bays
• Inward sloping roof over office is distinct feature of this type
• Concrete block exterior finish
• Detached butterfly canopy with angled metal poles or metal columns
• Service bays with glazed overhead sliding doors
• Single-entry door located between office/showroom windows and service bays, topped by transom
• Large, fixed display windows with metal frames and sloping transoms
• Modern style

The below newspaper clipping from the 1966 Greenville Delta Democrat Times shows some of the local station’s signage which would have been typical for other Humble stations.  The italicized script Happy Motoring! on the building, usually above the service bays, and a block print HUMBLE hanging from the slanted roof’s soffit. Interestingly enough the Greenville station has an attached canopy that from what I can tell was somewhat rare. This canopy is attached to the building and carries the sloped roof out over one pump island.  There is a second pump island that is covered by a smaller asymmetrical canopy covering three pumps.  This smaller canopy was replaced by the larger canopy visible in the Google Street View image.

page 26 June 23 1966 Greenville, Miss Delta Democrat Times

The footprint of the station is slightly different adjacent to the office.  While possibly an addition, it might be additional bathrooms, as in 1963 the station only offered whites-only restrooms.  I found two brief articles that mention Ronald Robert, a 35 year old African-American from Columbus, Ohio was arrested on the charge of “trespassing” when he used the whites-only restroom of this station.

There is another station of this form in Greenville.  This second station is not only still a functioning gas station but it’s still an Exxon brand station, having successfully made the transition from Humble to Exxon. This is an example of the station without the attached canopy.  A large modern canopy covering all the pumps has been added.  The service bays have been filled in as the station no longer provides mechanic services, but has converted to offering convenience items.

Do you know of any other Humble, Enco, or Esso stations of this style in Mississippi?


Did you enjoy this post on a Mississippi Gas Station? Consider checking out these other “Friday is a Gas” posts.



Categories: African American History, Building Types, Cool Old Places, Greenville, Historic Preservation, Meridian, Modernism

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21 replies

  1. And please remember when in Texas, never, under any circumstances, pronounce it “Humble, as in “meek and mild”. It’s Umble, as if there were no “H”.

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    • Although, good Southern Christians, at least, pronounce the “meek and mild” humble the same way. It seems even more humble that way!

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    • It might have been based on which part of Texas one lived in. I grew up in northwest Texas, and all I ever heard was Huh sound–HHHHHumble. Us plains dwellers were not as sophisticated as folks on the coast and in Houston, which some folks also call Youston. We patronized Mr. Nuckles’ Humble station just outside of Seymour.

      Liked by 1 person

    • This made me smile. Although deep in the heart of Texas we use the “H” sound in conjunction with humble. Whether it is the city of Humble or just referring to the humble attitude, the “h” sound is there. Although some may pronounce it so lightly that it does appear to be missing. Different regions, different ways, the meaning is the same! I enjoyed the pictures in this post, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I asked my son and husband, in a non-scientific survey how to pronounce the name of the Texas oil refinery spelled H-u-m-b-l-e. Son said Humble, pronouncing the H sound, though he had never heard of the company as he is too young. He said “It was a Texas company?” Yes. “Well, then it is probably Um-blay.” I love his sense of humor. Then asked the husband, who grew up in the Phillips 66 camps in West Texas around Odessa and Andrews where his father worked. He said out in West Texas, it was Huhmble. Regional dialects are indeed fascinating.

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  2. I distinctly remember the Exxon at the corner of Robinson and Highway 80 having the slogan “Happy Motoring” in the mid 70s. I wish I could remember what the old building looked like. The one there now seems newer.

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  3. I long admired this little station in my old stomping grounds in the Florida Panhandle, and now I know it was a Humble!

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  4. Wow I like that patriotic paint job this building had back in 2013. This also is the first example i’ve seen that the sloped roof is on the left side of the building.

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  5. This was an extra fun Friday post for me!

    You’re pretty spot on with your dates on Humble Oil changing to Exxon – I did a little bit of the company history when I included Humble Oil’s original Houston office building in my master’s thesis, and the phasing out of Humble and in of Exxon started when they moved from their original building (1921 with 1936 and 1941 additions) to what is now called the ExxonMobile Building in downtown Houston in 1963.

    Since I was focused on their office, I didn’t get into their gas station designs during my research, but I do know that one of their marketing strategies was to sponsor Southwest Conference football games and school pennant give aways with gas purchases – I don’t recall, however, reading anything that said they had similar marketing efforts outside of Texas.

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  6. Sorry to advise the damaged station in Pascagoula was demolished last Friday. The owners plan to build a much larger gym.

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  7. This is a fun series, and I am really enjoying it also. Since my manuscript was done and submitted, I played all day looking up service stations in Mississippi. It was like a little mini-vacation.

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  8. There was a station like this on Canton Mart Road in Jackson. The design was referred to by the company as an “L&M” design. It survived as a full-service Exxon until the mid-1980’s. It has since been torn down and replaced by an expansion of the Canton Mart Plaza. These stations were all over Jackson. The building occupied by Horace Slay Auto Sales on South State Street was the training center for Enco/Esso and their regional office. It was a variation on this design with many more garage door entrances. Some of these wee converted to the ranch style. There is one in Panama City, FL, now a used car lot…where the slanted roofline still peeps out at you.

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